<span style=""> <span style="">Among the most prestigious awards in the NFL, linebacker Scott Fujita has been named the 2009 New Orleans Saints "Man of the Year" for his dedication to community service, his charitable efforts and his performance on the football field. The honor is voted on annually by members of the media, Saints front office staff and local non-profit and business executives.
"There were a number of players we considered for this award because of the impact they have made on our community, but Scott's contributions this year and throughout his time in New Orleans are particularly noteworthy," said Owner/Executive Vice President Rita Benson LeBlanc. "We should all be proud of Scott's dedication – not only the members of the Saints' organization, but the residents of our region – for his efforts to make where we live a better place."
Fujita has been committed to working in the community since arriving in New Orleans in 2006, and the eighth-year veteran has adopted two public campaigns that hold special meaning to him – breast cancer awareness and adoption. His mother, Helen, is a breast cancer survivor who has twice defeated the disease. He teamed with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to tape a public service announcement for their "Race For The Cure" event, and with it held on a game day, his wife, Jaclyn, and two daughters participated in his absence.
Fujita, who was adopted as an infant, teamed with the Adoption Services of Catholic Charities of New Orleans to tape another public service announcement to build support and awareness for the cause. It has aired throughout November, which is National Adoption Awareness Month.
Angel's Place, a facility in New Orleans which provides a safe and nurturing environment for children with life-threatening illnesses, is another of Fujita's priorities. He and his family visited at Christmas Eve last year, bringing a bag of gifts for the children while also making a monetary donation. He was recently honored at their "Under Angels Wings" fundraiser.
Fujita also chaired the Crimestoppers of New Orleans Carnivale fundraiser, helping raise funds for the non-profit organization, which provides citizens with the means to assist law enforcement to apprehend criminals and make the city a safer place to live.
"Scott Fujita is a player I've known and had the pleasure to coach for a number of years now and he has always been a great influence to his teammates, both on the field and in the locker room," Saints Head Coach Sean Payton said. "That influence carries over into our community where his hard work is just as evident away from the field as it is between the lines on Sundays."
The first defensive free agent to join the team after Payton arrived in New Orleans, Fujita posted a team-high 342 tackles over the next three seasons, along with 6.5 sacks and four interceptions. He is one of only four linebackers in club history to record three straight seasons with 100 more tackles.
The NFL Man of the Year award has been in existence since 1970 and honors NFL players who demonstrate balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities. The finalist from each team receives a $1,000 contribution toward a charity of his choice, and the overall winner will receive $25,000 to donate to his selected charity.
The 2009 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year winner will be announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell's prior to Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida.